Growing old is not easy. It’s a process that often requires a lot of attention, planning and care. Finding the necessary support is key.
Enter the Peninsula Agency on Aging (PAA). Since 1974, PAA has served the region’s aging population in a significant number of ways. The menu of services that the nonprofit organization provides to aging residents and their relatives is exhaustive and impressive, ranging from transportation, to health evaluations, to Meals on Wheels to caregiver support. And that’s just a smidgen of what it does for the community.
The cities of Hampton, Newport News and Williamsburg and the counties of James City and York are home to upwards of 90,000 people who are 60 and older, the age that residents qualify for PAA services. The customer base keeps growing, as William Massey, longtime president and CEO of PAA, notes.
“I would be happy to go out of business, but I don’t think that’s in the cards,” Massey says.
The aging population is increasing, and so are its needs. In 2018, PAA provided 12,365 clients with information and assistance, 11,643 hours of in-home personal care, 602 health and wellness sessions, 17,588 one-way trips to appointments, 5,210 hours of adult day care, 13,795 senior dining center meals served and 129,374 meals delivered by Meals on Wheels. It prides itself on “linking seniors and services since 1974.”
“As the life expectancy increases, the number of people we serve grows,” Massey says.
PAA was formed as part of the Older Americans Act. It is funded federally, locally and by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its budget last year was $4.3 million. Massey, 76, has been with PAA for 35 years. When he came to Newport News, Yoder Dairy was still operating and there were cows grazing where Patrick Henry Mall now stands.
“The Peninsula has changed a lot,” he says.
When Massey first arrived here, the senior population was about 38,000. It has almost tripled during his tenure. He has worked diligently for more than three decades to make PAA a leader in innovation and leadership. He is proud of the way it has grown, and the breadth of services it now provides.
PAA has partners throughout the community that help serve the needs of the older population. It also works hand in hand with PAAs in the region, especially Bay Agency on Aging in Middlesex County, which is run by Massey’s wife, Kathy Vesley-Massey.
Basically, PAA serves as a clearinghouse of information for senior citizens, answering questions, including those about Medicare and Medicaid. If a family is concerned about whether an aging relative is capable of living alone, PAA will send someone to make in-home assessments and provide a recommendation.
There are also support groups to help caregivers. “People can come to us for anything and we will direct them to the right resource,” Massey says. “It’s a rare situation that a family in this day and time is not dealing with an aging family member. It is hard. They can call us and we will help them and provide them with answers and services if they need them.”
PAA has 73 full and part-time employees, but depends heavily on volunteers, especially to deliver Meals on Wheels. “I think this organization has had the good fortune of relying upon really good board members and staff,” Massey says. “We have been able to be very innovative locally.”
Massey has shaped PAA into something special and effective. He believes deeply in the work he does and has embraced the long tenure he has had. He has no plans to leave in the near future.
“I ask myself two questions: Am I still contributing and am I still enjoying it? Both answers are still yes,” he says with a smile. “I finally learned when you have something good, you stick with it. I’ve enjoyed being here. Of course, there have been challenges, but this is work I believe in. There is a real need for it in this community.”
TO THE POINT:
Peninsula Agency on Aging
Address: 739 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 1006, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: William Massey, president and CEO